So with email truly nailed, what about the GPS, a new addition to the lineup? Well, things aren’t quite so good here. GPS certainly works – you can pull up the Maps application, get a lock and get some decent directions to where you are travelling. The maps are comprehensive, and easy to read – although there’s no ‘super 3D’ mode that you commonly see in TomTom products.
However, the 8800 takes a long time to get a satellite lock, far longer than most GPS units that we’ve tested. If you’re hoping to hop in the car and drive off, think again – make sure you know the first 5 minutes of your journey because you’ll be doing it alone! The 8800 also seems to be a bit underpowered, since scrolling across maps is not exactly a smooth experience, with plenty of tearing and delay in loading up the visual data. This is disappointing, especially since Google Maps for Blackberry seems to perform much better. CoPilot is still the gold standard for mobile phone GPS software/hardware combos.
The web browser is a fair way better, making a good job of rendering full-size web pages and obviously coping fine with those designed for smartphones. The roller wheel makes it easy to navigate between links across the page, and the screen is certainly a lot easier to read than on the Pearl, which is rather smaller.
The 8800 is the first full-size ‘berry to come with external expansion, and this is in the form of a MicroSD slot, meaning you can stick in a card with video and audio for playback in the included applications. Video playback is neat, and looks good on the large screen – although we can’t for the life of us work out how to full-screen it, leaving the play/pause bar as an annoying surround to the video. Depending on who your carrier is, you’ll be able to transfer across MP3s to use as a ringtone, meaning that you can be the umpteenth person to make their phone sound like it’s ringing in CTU Los Angeles.
The 8800 is a gorgeous device. RIM has taken the business-style Blackberry, given it a swanky makeover and some multimedia hoops, opened up email access to the masses then put it out through standard retail channels. This makes it a great purchase for small businesses, and die-hard Crackberry addicts will find that this gives them an even more enticing and appealing dose of their drug of choice. The GPS and Maps software isn’t quite there, but we can hope that a firmware and software update improves this in the future. For now, the 8800 is undoubtedly the email device of choice for anyone that wants push messaging – and the stunning good looks are just an added bonus.
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